Violinist Sarah Chang on Dvorak and touring

Jan 17, 2017

By the time she was 10, she had already played with the New York Phil and Philadelphia Symphony, AND released her first album. Violinist Sarah Chang is making two Michigan appearances this week; at the Wharton Center in East Lansing on Wednesday, and at Ann Arbor's Hill Auditorium.


The tour which Sarah Chang is currently on, three weeks with the Prague Philharmonia, is different from her usual appearances which typically means playing with dozens of city orchestras and flying from city to city. "What’s great about doing tours with one orchestra and not, you know, changing groups that you’re working with every week is that you really get to know them, you know, and not just as colleagues on stage, but you get to know them as people and friends and you really get to build a relationship, which is awesome."

The Prague Philharmonia will be joined by Sarah Chang to perform one of the marathon works of the violin repertoire, the Concerto by Antonin Dvorak. "Well, I think it’s this incredible concerto." says Chang. "First of all, it’s one of the longest concertos in the entire violin repertoire, you know, and it is quite a challenging concerto, but also, as you mentioned, you know, the third movement is this huge, amazing folk dance from beginning to end. Which is, you know, just so much fun to play. The second movement is this gorgeous, lyrical Czech melody, and the first movement is a very dynamic sort-of firecracker movement. Where he essentially explored every single technical aspect of the violin and just threw it all with the kitchen sink. So, it really is, it’s a lot of fun to play and I’m really thrilled that we’re doing it with the Prague Philharmonia, but cause, you know, it’s a great fit."

And when it comes to studying the history of the music she plays (like Dvorak’s Violin concerto) Sarah Chang takes a more holistic approach. "Part of the reason that I love reading up on composers, no just their entire biography, about specific time periods and what they were going through when they were composing specific works. You know, it’s so important, ‘cause as we go through our own lives, we go through wave and where we live, who we’re surrounded by, our influences that those effect our being, and then the composers, you know, it overflows into their work. This concerto, in his violin concerto, it’s one of those  gems that he wrote right before he came to the US. In a way, you feel like it’s sort of a timestamp of his life."

Even with her crazy touring schedule, Sarah Chang does find time for herself, to the point of flying  home on Christmas just last month with a very small window of time. "I was nuts. Yeah, I think in a sheer moment of insanity I decided to come back home for Christmas for less than one full day. when your family is home and you have a puppy waiting for you, there’s nothing like coming home for the holidays."

For more of this conversation with Sarah Chang, including hearing her gush over that puppy, named Chewie, by the way, click here. In the meantime, the Prague Philharmonia and conductor Emmanuel Villaume is joined by violinist Sarah Chang, as well as her Juilliard classmate Andrew von Oeyen in a program of Dvorak, Smetana, and Mendelssohn this Wed Jan 18th at the Wharton Center in East Lansing more info at WhartonCenter.com, plus Thurs Jan 19th at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium information at UMS.org